Thursday, 31 October 2013

Bad Behavior.

Because God does not punish bad behavior does not mean He condones it.

He withdraws.

Murder, violence, stealing, lies, adultery, blasphemy, greed, oppression.....
God does not condone these things.

Most of them have causes, and those causes are fears.

So God does not judge them.

Non-violence, forgiveness, honesty, respect, charity, generosity.....
God delights in these things.

But most of all God delights in Love.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Tolerance.

Some right-wing Christians seem to think that they have a God given right to stop gay people having sex.

They constantly oppose any expression of sexuality between people of the same sex.  And they seek to straighten any gay people they come into contact with.

They tell us God does not accept us.
And we will go to hell.

Far from endorsing these ideas God teaches us tolerance.
We are to love our neighbors, not judge them.

God does not punish us.
So there can be no hell.

But rather than embracing these liberal ideas many right-wing Christians feel obliged to interfere with others.  They bully people and threaten everyone.

It is their fear that drives them.

Beginning and ending with the fear of God.

If only they could learn to love God and not fear Him perhaps they would treat others with more tolerance.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Heart of Flesh 2.

"I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:26b (NRSV)

This is far removed from the attitude to flesh expounded by St. Paul.
In his writings St. Paul sets up a conflict between spirit, which is pure and good, and flesh, which is dirty and bad.

This has created a theology which denies the flesh in favor of spirit.

Heaven is the reward for sacrificing pleasures on earth.

This is the attitude of many Christians to gay sex.

Heterosexual sex seems not to matter to them but gay sex is banned.

We are expected to sacrifice the consummation of our love in order to achieve heaven.

These Christians, of course, don't do this themselves, but it is expected of gay people.

This theory is contradicted by God.

"I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:26b (NRSV)


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Monday, 28 October 2013

Well Adjusted.

One expression I dislike is well adjusted.

Adjusted to what?
The cruelty and injustice of the world?

Is that something we should be well adjusted to?

I would suggest not.

The expression well adjusted merely means we are like everyone else - materialistic, employed, law abiding, and insular.
We don't rock the boat and we re-enforce the status quo.
We endorse traditional social structures and do not challenge the powers of the world.

Was Jesus well adjusted?
If he had been he would never have challenged the Pharisees, nor would he have preached a philosophy of radical Love.

Rather than being well adjusted citizens we should seek to be self-actualized agents of Love, attuned to God's goodness and mercy, not the values of the world.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Evil.

Some philosophers call natural disasters and bad experiences evil.

I, however, would suggest that the only evil in the world is deliberate, conscious evil done by people who have rejected the good (God).

The rest is done by humans of their own free will.

Natural disasters are accidents caused by the actions of natural forces in the earth.  These natural forces act autonomously - i.e. without the conscious intervention of God.

As for bad experiences, the chances are that if you treat people well they will treat you well in return, and if you treat people badly they will treat you badly in return.

This, however, is not a Law.

People have free will and act according to their will.
People are free to return ill for your good or good for your ill.

God is not responsible for what happens to you in the world.

Other members of the human family are responsible for their own actions towards you.

Our task is to be grateful and forgive.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Re-Enchantment.

At a meeting of the PCNV* entitled Where is Progressive Christianity at? one of the speakers said that our faith goes through three stages:

When we are children we live in an enchanted world.

Later we experience disenchantment.

But, he said, there is a third stage - re-enchantment.

He said that Progressive Christianity was still in the second stage of disenchantment and was yet to reach the third stage of re-enchantment.

This is consistent with my experience.
After we have learned to be cynical and pragmatic we return to a childlike innocence and openness.

This is also consistent with Jesus saying that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must become again like a little child (Mark 10:15).  And his statement to Nicodemus that we must be born again (John 3:3).

This is re-enchantment.

We do not return to the ignorant, childish ways of our childhood but we regain the innocence and openness of childhood with the knowledge and experience we have gained.

This is true enlightenment and it is achieved when we open our hearts and practice unconditional love.

*Progressive Christian Network of Victoria.

Friday, 25 October 2013

No Winner.

Anything that helps us to get along together as a whole is helpful.

God will not adjudicate.

There will be no winner.

So we had better learn how to get on with each other.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Everyone.

God loves everyone.

He condemns no one.

We are all forgiven.

We are enjoined to pray for our enemies as well as our friends.

So we can pray:
for the sick to be healed,
for the troubled to be comforted,
for the blind to see,
for violence to cease,
for the oppressed to be delivered,
for the fearful to be released,
for the darkness to be dispelled,
for apostates to be reconciled,
for the guilty to be forgiven.

Then all will know God and the reality that all are loved.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Confidence Trick.

Satanism is a confidence trick.

Because famous rock bands from the 1960s and 1970s experienced great fame and fortune modern wannabes expect the same thing to happen to them if they sell their souls to the devil.

This gives them confidence.
And this confidence brings success.

They have confidence in Satan - that he can bring them the fame and fortune they crave.

But there is no Satan in reality.
So their house is built on sand.

The success experienced by the rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s was the result of talent and work, not some illusory contract with the devil.

And modern rock bands can experience the same thing.
But it is not the work of the devil.

Entertainers who are popular experience fame and wealth and have devoted fans in any case whether they sell their souls or not.

So Satanism is a confidence trick.

P.S.  In the end there is only God's Love.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

No Punishment.

Perhaps in the end God punishes no one.

Even the most wicked apostates are His children.
And He will not reject them.

This, of course, makes hell impossible.

As many have said, hell is our of character for a loving God.

So our image of God must change.

No longer will we see Him as an enforcer of rules.
No longer will He be the dispenser of punishments.

God is our loving Father.
And He will not reject us.

There is Biblical support for this view in Luke 15:
the parables of the Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and the Lost (Prodigal) Son.

These are the parables of reconciliation.
Even to the very last one.

Jesus says that our sins are forgiven.

And as he says in the parable of the two debtors - he who is forgiven more will love God more.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The story of Adam and Eve is a myth.

But like so many myths it contains a seed of truth.

This seed is that the problems of humanity are caused by the knowledge of good and evil.

This is the old problem of dualistic thinking.

Life is not in black and white - there are seven colors in the spectrum.
And while some things in life are dual, others are singular, or even multiple.
There is diversity in nature.

The knowledge of good and evil causes us to divide everyone and everything into good and evil.
This is a false dichotomy.
This black and white thinking is the cause of persecutions and wars.

The only evil in the world is conscious evil which is chosen by some as an alternative to good, usually because they have been misled about the nature of God.

Other things which we call evil have reasons which ultimately derive to some kind of fear.

The King James Bible translates Deuteronomy 6:4 as, "Hear O Israel: 'The Lord our God is one Lord.'"
This means not only that there is only one God but that He is one, i.e. not dual.

So we have been looking at things the wrong way.

God is holistic, not dualistic.

One definition of holistic is - emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.

There is no Satan, no dark forces.

God is one.

So, instead of dividing everything into good and evil, we should look at life as a whole.

No good man is entirely good and no bad man is entirely bad.

Everyone is a mixture of good and bad qualities.

So, in effect, everyone is the same.
It is a matter of degree.

And perhaps those who we call evil are those who most deserve our sympathy.
Because what was done to them caused them to become what they are.

Who are we to judge them.

They should be forgiven as we have been forgiven.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sleight of Hand.

Satanism in the media is disguised as something else in order to maintain popularity.

Shows promoting rock music covertly sell Satanism to young wannabes who will believe their stories of instant success.

Their songs have double meanings and they are always ready with a lie to tell an unsuspecting public.

The main reason why they have not been exposed is that modern people don't believe in the devil.
So they presume that others don't either.
How can there be Satanists if there is no Satan?

There may not be a supernatural being called Satan but there certainly are Satanists in the music industry.

And they are not just openly Satanic bands.
Others disguise their true nature by sleight of hand.
They pretend to be good, or even saviors, in order to get people in.

Once they have taken you in they will turn your mind to the dark side and lead you astray with the intention of getting you into hell.

There is no hell in reality but the damage they do remains.

So beware.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Categories.

Consciously or unconsciously we divide the people around us into categories.

Firstly there are the real people - people like us who don't have any special needs or problems and think and live like us.

Secondly there are the poor and the needy - second class citizens who make demands on our finances and time.  They may not think and live like us.

Thirdly there are people who are different - people who have special problems or do not think and live like us.

Fourthly there are foreigners - people who are not like us.  People that we fear and doubt.

Fifthly there are people who have done something wrong - bad people and criminals of whom we are afraid and of whom we feel superior.

Sixthly there are evil people - these are barely people at all and are not considered deserving of our attention or compassion.

We rationalize these categories in order to make ourselves good and others bad.

But God does not see them thus.
To God all people are equal.
Each is a child in their own right.

Jesus constantly challenged our categories.
He broke down the walls we construct around ourselves.

In the end everyone is equal.
All are perpetrators and victims, elitists and underdogs.

Our sins are forgiven.

So, rather than dividing people into categories, we should see that everyone is the same - a product of birth and experience.  And perhaps those who are the recipients of our greatest disdain are the ones most deserving of our compassion.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Brokenness.

The concept of brokenness means that life is imperfect and nothing works.

It is like the Buddhist concept that all life is dukha or unsatisfactory.

But rather than this being a spiritual state or some kind of cosmic condition this is caused by human frailty.

Human beings act in ignorance and fear.
We do the wrong thing.
This is the cause of human suffering.

It is only when we discover Love that things begin to change.

Love is the cause and the purpose of life.

It is Love which mends our broken hearts and heals our broken world.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Sodom.

For the sake of those who assert that every word of the Bible is the literal word of God:

"I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your fortunes along with theirs."  Ezekiel 16:53 (NRSV)

"Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered?"  Ezekiel 16:56 (NRSV)

These passages come well after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and indicate that God will restore their fortunes.

You don't hear fundamentalist Christians quoting these passages.

Gay is for them a byword as Sodom was for Israel.

So don't take the literal passages that fundamentalists quote too seriously - they are selective - these passages and the passages about David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel indicate that God's attitude towards homosexuality is not as severe as they suggest.

And these are passages from the Bible.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

No One Wins.

If you are waiting for God to intervene and adjudicate between your group and your opponents (with your group winning of course) then you will be waiting a long time.

You've already been waiting a long time haven't you?

This is because God does not take sides.

God fosters a live and let live approach.

This is why there has been no solution in the Middle East.
Each side is trying to win over the other.
Both claiming that God is on their side.

The point is not who has the right to the land.
The point is how can they live harmoniously side by side.

There is no Last Day.
There is no Judgment.

Once we realize this we can get on with the business of peace.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Making Peace.

Anything that fosters understanding between conflicting groups in our world is helping to create a more harmonious and better place for us to live.

This includes understanding between Christianity and Islam, right and left, gay and straight etc..

Getting to the root of the problem is the key.

And there you will find fear.

Violence and anger are most common where we find the most fear.

Fear makes us use force and coercion.

Often this fear comes from the pulpit.

You will find that the most violent religious people are those whose leaders preach fear from the pulpit.

Terrorists are people who are terrified (usually of God).

So anything that we can do to reduce the level of fear in our society will help to curb violence and hatred.

Faith, understanding, and love.
These three reduce fear.

And these come from God.

Monday, 14 October 2013

What God Wants.

It is simple.

What God wants is a warmer, more caring, more loving society; a more equal, more tolerant, more just world.

You can forget about battles against evil, moral end-games, magical salvation, guilt games, and threats of hell.
God is none of these things.

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  Micah 6:8 (NRSV)

"Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another."  Zechariah 7:9,10 (NRSV)

"'Go and learn what this means, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."'"  Matthew 9:13a (NRSV)

As in the Psalms God is rejecting the ritual of the priests in favor of a change of heart, a modification in the way we live and relate to one another.

The main reason why this doesn't happen is fear.
People are afraid of each other.  They are afraid to open their hearts to others in case they get hurt or look stupid.

All too often the Church has been an agent of fear, effectively stopping the development God wants.

The time has come to put aside all those things which inspire fear in people and allow the love which is waiting to flow freely between us.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]  

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Universal Vision.

Whatever is not love in the world is motivated by fear.

It is all too easy to take sides and back us versus them: liberals versus conservatives, Christians versus Muslims, west versus east etc..

But there is always truth on both sides and whatever is not love is motivated by fear.

There is fear in the darkness.

When the light comes our fears are dispelled.

It is true spiritual experience which lessens our fears.

Faith that God will provide is true spiritual experience.

So, rather than taking sides and trying to beat the others, we should be looking to our fears and what triggers them.
And we should try to allay the fears of our opponents.

Our opponents are just like us.
It is a matter of degree only.

No one is condemned.
All are forgiven.

Once we realize this we can have a truly universal vision.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Do It.

It is one thing to speak of unconditional love and forgiveness, it is another to do it.

Were churches full of people who gave unconditional love to those who entered, the churches would be overflowing.

Instead churches are full of fear.

Fear is cold, hard and distant.

Were we able to unravel the doctrines of fear that fill the Churches and institute doctrines of unconditional love and forgiveness, it would still remain for people to actually do it.

If you are surrounded by love you can feel it.

But all too often we feel the cold, hard shoulder of fear.

It is one thing to speak of unconditional love and forgiveness, it is another to do it.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Holy Heart.

The Holy Heart blossoms like a flower.

The difference between the Holy Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that the Holy Heart is not surrounded by thorns or pierced by daggers.

And while it may be that Love is crucified in this world, it is not because of Love that this happens.

Jesus was crucified for challenging the Pharisees and threatening the Romans by his popularity.

This is not because of Love.

This is because of fear.

Were Jesus able to allay the fears of the Pharisees and the Romans the result might have been different.

But claiming to be the Son of God was too much for the Pharisees and King of Kings was too much for the Romans.

I do not believe that God intended Jesus to be crucified.
I believe that God hoped the good news of unconditional love and forgiveness would spread throughout the world.

Instead He used the catastrophe of the crucifixion to show us that death is not the end.

The Holy Heart blossoms like a flower.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Money.

I have an aunt who grew up during the depression.

She has spent her whole life working and accumulating wealth.

When asked why she felt she had to continue making more and more money she replied that she never felt that she had enough.

This is fear.
Fear of poverty.

She never had enough to feel secure.

Perhaps this is the motivation for all people who accumulate wealth.
Perhaps they are so afraid of poverty or not having enough that they work harder and harder to make more money.

Certainly this is a pattern in business.
There is never enough profit.

Their fear makes them aggressive, even violent.
Their fear makes them cheat, even criminal.

So how can we reduce their all consuming fear?

Faith that God will provide is one answer.
With God there will always be enough.

But how do we get this message across to hard-nosed businessmen and corporate executives?

Challenging them too aggressively will make them attack.
This triggers their fears.
Fear of losing power and money.

They must be shown that they will not starve if they pay their fair share of tax.

No one objects to people being rich.
What people object to is people being poor.

So how can the rich be convinced to share their wealth?

We must find ways to reduce their fear.

And pray to God that they will change.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Perfect Love.

As Tolstoy said, all great ideas are simple.

My idea is this:
Fear is the problem.
Love is the answer.

Rather than creating sides by setting up value judgments on virtue and goodness, which automatically makes someone wicked or bad, we should look at the causes of bad behavior.

And this will be fear.

And because God forgives actions taken out of fear, no one is condemned, no matter how wicked they may have been.

And because we seek to act in harmony with God we should not judge people for their bad behavior but look for the causes of that behavior.

And this will be fear.

What is the antidote to fear?

Love.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment , and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love."  1 John 4:18 (NRSV)

God is good.

But God does not condemn bad behavior because He knows it is caused by fear.

Neither does He condone it.

Much bad behavior is caused by people reacting to Phariseeism in the Church.

And Phariseeism in the Church is caused by fear.
Fear of God, fear of evil, fear of punishment, fear of hell.....

But there is no hell.
Hell is totally out of character with a loving God.

Rather God blesses us and leads us to Love.

He who loves is on the right track.

That track may cause us to challenge injustice in our world.

If we can see the fear which causes injustice we will forgive those who cause it and help them to overcome their fears.

There are only two things in the world: Fear and Love.

But there are not two sides.

No good man is entirely good and no bad man in entirely bad.

Fear affects everyone no matter how bad or good they might have been.

"perfect love casts out fear"  1 John 4: 18 (NRSV)

And perfect Love comes from God.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Others.

When we are young and inexperienced we think that others are like us - more or less good, mostly honest, rational, law abiding, reasonable, and humane.

But as we grow older we begin to realize that people can be quite different.
Some people are corrupt, deceitful, irrational, malicious, criminal, even deliberately evil.

People can believe the most astonishing things.
Even reversing what we might think self-evident.

The world contains a full spectrum of views and attitudes.
Much like a Shakespearean drama.

Unfortunately the negative attitudes tend to dominate the positive attitudes.
This is mainly because their fear is greater.
Fear is their motivation.
It makes them aggressive, domineering, even violent.

Despite the fact that they might be religious, they have little faith in the benevolence of God.
"God has forsaken the earth!"  is their cry.
"We must look after ourselves."

So, rather than battling against them, we should pray for them to overcome their fears and have more faith in God.

Our first reaction is to judge them - to label them bad, corrupt, or evil.
But no good man is entirely good and no bad man is entirely bad.

People are the product of their experiences and even genetic factors can affect their make-up.

So we are wrong to judge them.

They are human beings like us.
And, as we need forgiveness, so we should forgive others.

God judges no one.
He forgives to the very last one.
All are His children.

So we should not judge either.
And be children of our Father.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Our Father.

The image of God as the dispenser of rewards and punishments comes from our experience of our own earthly fathers.

So the modern prohibition on smacking your children will break the cycle of violence and fear which feeds the image of God as an abusive parent.

We owe much of this to feminism which reversed the roles and opposed the patriarchy.

In the future children will not grow up with the fear of God which past generations have suffered.

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on religion.

Gentle hippy fathers and sensitive new age guys will change the image of fathers for ever.

Our image of God will change with it.

No longer will God be feared and we may be able to love God as we have been taught.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

No Enemy.

There is no enemy.

There are no sides.

Evil is a reaction to false doctrines.

False doctrines are made our of fear.

Mistakes made out of fear are forgiven.

God forgives everyone.

There is no enemy.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sexual Abuse.

Of all the places for sexual abuse to take place why does it happen in the Church?

You would think that the high moral standards of the Church would protect it from such crimes.

But perhaps it is this very thing which causes the problem.

In the past sex was never mentioned in church.
Such things were left at home.
Consequently any sexual impulses were forced down into a little box which was never opened in church.
This was very unhealthy and resulted in perversions of the sexual impulse.
This is why we see child sex abuse in the Church and its institutions.

The reason for this comes from the writings of St. Paul and others.
Paul set up a conflict between body/sexuality and spirit.
The spirit was pure and good, the body was carnal and corrupt.
Later Augustine linked sex to original sin to complete the complex.

Fear of losing contact with God caused Christians to repress their strong natural urges.
This has resulted in the current sex abuse scandals.

And this is not new.  John Chrysostom reported sexual abuse among the bishops of Antioch in the 6th century.

There is a lot of fear surrounding sex in the Church.
Even more now that the abuse scandals have broken.

Fear is not the answer.

The Church will never outgrow sexual abuse until it develops a healthy attitude towards sex.

Sex is a natural part of God's good creation.

That is why I am calling for a new bar-mitzvah - a coming of age celebration - which would normalize sexual development in teenagers - both heterosexual and homosexual.

This would go along way to reducing the fear surrounding sex in the Church.

And it cannot come too soon.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Your Vote.

Have you noticed how the media plays up any threat to the community by feeding fear and panic?

This is done deliberately in order to create alarm.

It is done nationally in relation to crime and internationally in relation to terrorism or nuclear threat.

The reason for this is so that then they can present their candidate (the conservative candidate) for the election as the only one who is strong enough to control and defeat the threat.

This will be someone with a national policy of law and order and an international policy of military intervention.

This is the reason why the right-wing media romanticizes the military.
Quite apart from the fact that they believe that the military is there to protect their wealth like the police.

So be wary of any attempts to overplay the threat of crime or terrorism.
It is an attempt to control you and to win your vote.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Afterlife.

If we accept that life is a process of learning - that we progress from darkness to light - then perhaps the afterlife; rather than being a place of reward or punishment for what we have done in life, or a place where punishment is paid off; is a place where we continue to learn and progress towards enlightenment.

Mediums who contact the dead would suggest that this is the case.
The people that have passed over are with their loved ones who are helping them.
I would suggest that this indicates a continued process of learning.

So, rather than fearing judgment or punishment after death, we should anticipate a continuation of the learning process that we experience in life.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Spiritual Development.

Spirituality does not mean that everything works out perfectly for me.

New Age gurus make the mistake of substituting personal happiness and success for spiritual development.

Spiritual development consists of the opening of the heart and the development of the caring and compassionate feelings which lead to actions on behalf of others.

This does not always mean that things work out for us.
It quite often means trouble or inconvenience.
It may make us feel uncomfortable.
Certainly it will challenge our comfort zone.

For Jesus it led to the cross.

So, rather than judging people by how well their lives are going, we should look to the development of the heart and its attendant compassionate actions.

This is enlightenment.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Prayer of the Sacred Heart.

Heavenly Father,

Open our eyes to see the suffering and injustice in our world.

Open our ears to hear their cries.

Open our hearts to feel compassion and love for those who are suffering.

Help us to love you, our Father, with our whole heart as we have been instructed.

Help us to love each other as Jesus taught us.

Open our hands to help those around us who are in need.

Send us out into the world as agents of Love.

Amen.